Operation found ‘at fault’ in Soma disaster

Report finds Soma mine operating company 100 percent responsible for disaster

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

A report prepared by investigators from Turkey's Social Security Institution (SGK) Izmir Group Residency found the privately-owned Soma Coal Mining Company 100 per cent at fault for an accident at the Soma mine which killed 301 workers on May 13, 2014.

The lawyers of the complainants against the mine have demanded the findings of the report be added to the court file for a pending suit in Akhisar Heavy Penal Court.

The report also found technical deficiencies in the Soma mine such as insufficient inspections and an inadequate legal safety framework.

However, the report found there was no evidence of malicious intent on the part of the employer.

Following the incident there were fierce protests against the government and the operators of the coal mine.

Lawyers representing survivors and miners’ families had claimed that there were 4,000 workers working at the facility, instead of the recommended number of 2,000, and that there was insufficient security and safety investment.

The disaster occured when there were over 780 workers underground as the miners were changing shifts.

It claimed the lives of 301 people, making it the worst mining accident in the world in 40 years and the 19th worst in world history.

Regarding negligence and deficiencies by the mine operator, the report said that the conveyor belt system of the mine was not flame-proof and that there was no fire extinguisher equipment, flame detection system or automatic fire sprinkler in the mine.

It was also noted that preventive measures were not taken, such as analysing possible dangers and controlling operations.

On April 23, the Turkish parliament enacted a new ‘’Health and Safety Law” shortly before the first anniversary of the disaster.

The new law brought new requirements, including a "shelter room" where miners can go if there is a subterranean accident. It bans a mining company from public tenders for two years if an accident is classified as the fault of the employer.  

Mining companies were forced to pay a 500-lira ($190) fine for each of their workers who does not have the right training to work underground.  

It is expected that these new measures will involve greater governmental scrutiny of the mining sector.

Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said, "With Turkey's new draft mining law, state-owned underground coal resources will be shared only by licensed investors," speaking at a press conference in January.   

TRTWorld and agencies